They were the most horrific crimes of a new century: the murders of newborn innocents for which two British women were hanged at Holloway Prison in 1903. Decades later, mystery writer Josephine Tey has decided to write a novel based on Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, the notorious “Finchley baby farmers,” unaware that her research will entangle her in the desperate hunt for a modern-day killer.
A young seamstress—an ex-convict determined to reform—has been found brutally slain in the studio of Tey’s friends, the Motley sisters, amid preparations for a star-studded charity gala. Despite initial appearances, Inspector Archie Penrose is not convinced this murder is the result of a long-standing domestic feud—and a horrific accident involving a second young woman soon after supports his convictions. Now he and his friend Josephine must unmask a sadistic killer before more blood flows—as the repercussions of unthinkable crimes of the past reach out to destroy those left behind long after justice has been served.
Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson is a compelling, yet disturbing story of two women who are hanged for the murders of newborns in 1903 and a writer who years later is writing a book about it. Call it a “book within a book”, Upson has created a rather intriguing storytelling method for this third novel in her Josephine Tey series. In parallel with Tey’s research into these horrific events, readers are exposed to another shocking homicide in present day, one that is not disconnected from the hangings at Holloway Prison. Upson crafts a tantalizing mystery that leads readers to question why someone is carrying out vengeful acts so many years after the execution of those believed to be involved in the Finchley baby farming. Upson has assembled an interesting premise for her story and presents her characters in masterful fashion, characters with real and flawed characteristics. I have not read her two previous Josephine Tey novels and felt a little uncomfortable with the characters with whom I felt ill at ease in learning for the first time about their interrelationships. I would recommend that readers plan to read Upson’s first two Tey novels before Two for Sorrow. In all, I felt Two for Sorrow still paid off for its intriguing premise, well crafted prose and just the right amount of mystery and I would recommend this book to all mystery fans.
Nicola Upson has written for a variety of publications, including the New Statesman, where she was a crime fiction critic. She also regularly contributes to BBC radio and has worked in the theater for ten years. She divides her time between Cambridge and Cornwall.
For more about the author and her books, please visit her website: nicolaupson.com
For more reviews of the book, please follow the TLC Book Tour.
I received a complimentary ARC of Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.